What is your relationship with cricket?
Cricket has been with me forever. My family was heavily involved in the sport in India, and still was after they moved to the UK in the 50s. I actually was named after a famous cricket player, Rohan Kanhai. In hindsight, I think it was cricket that really gave me opportunities and education. I have been a coach for over 25 years, working for the MCC Academy, Chance to Shine, ICC Americas in Argentina but also Barnes CC and Richmond CC, to name a few. I also headed cricket for The Prince’s Trust.
I have always been passionate about creating community through cricket and eventually founded Fulham Cricket Club in 2017. We offer courses for all ages from the age of 2 to 15 and our last summer camps have welcomed over 1,000 children and teenagers, boys and girls, which I am very proud of. Cricket reflects our society’s inclusivity and diversity – you don’t always tend to see such a mix in other sports.
What changes have you seen recently in women’s cricket?
I can’t remember a single girl in any cricket club I played in when I was young. Now about 10-15% of players at Fulham CC are female, which is better than many other clubs, but still too low. That being said, there are many encouraging signs, with girls getting really involved in the game from an earlier age. Some girls in our club joined when they were as young as 5 or 6, and a lot of them are now truly exceptional.
The girls and women in this country have a lot to be proud of, and significant change has been made in the last five years. The women’s game is great to watch, with top-notch senior leadership from players like Heather Knight and some promising upstarts such as Issy Wong. Off the pitch, former cricketers like Ebony Rainford-Brent are fantastic ambassadors for the sport and encouraging new entrants to join. The sport is more accessible, and exposure has increased through school, TV, the news. There is still a long way to go but we should be really proud in the UK as to how far the girls and women’s game has moved forward. Having women play the first game for the new 100-ball competition is something we would have never imagined 20 years ago.
The ongoing myth that their talent is not as good as the men’s, as well as the opportunity for progress and playing more. Also the lack of representation at grassroots level and within the coaching community. And last but not least, the girls’ equipment and clothing, as a lot of it is still labelled up as boys and really has not made the progress it should have.
Clothing IS DEFINITELY a challenge for women cricketers. Can you tell us more?
Clothing has a huge impact on the way you play. Simply put, if you don’t look the part you don’t look confident. I feel conscious for the kids, especially teenage girls, facing an increasing pressure from their peers and social media. Of course being comfortable is key, however there is more at play now, with the need for a cool kit that fits and attracts more people into the game, with a wider choice of colours and designs. It’s also the little things: most cricket whites are still see-through, which many girls are quite mindful of. Ultimately, making players comfortable with their clothing is an important part of making them comfortable with the sport.
Remember to enjoy the game – it’s all that really matters!